Fiction--classics -Americans abroad -Hemingway is a real drag -the Lost generation -Pamplona, Spain -Um, perhaps I'm missing something
The Sun Also Rises | Ernest Hemingway (read a Hemingway, Steinbeck or John D. MacDonald novel) ★★☆☆☆
“Published in 1926 to explosive acclaim, “The Sun Also Rises” stands as perhaps the most impressive first novel ever written by an American writer. A roman a clef about a group of American and English expatriates on an excursion from Paris’s Left Bank to Pamplona for the July fiesta and its climactic bull fight, a journey from the center of a civilization spiritually bankrupted by the First World War to a vital, God-haunted world in which faith and honor have yet to lose their currency, the novel captured
for the generation that would come to be called “Lost” the spirit of its age, and marked Ernest Hemingway as the preeminent writer of his time.“- Scribner
I know this story is supposed to shed light on the lost generation of soldiers recovering from the carnage of WWI, but it is one of the dullest tales I’ve ever read. I also understand that, written in 1926, using anti-Semitic terminology was acceptable, but holy crap Hemingway is savage. Nearly every action, reaction and minor character flaw of the Robert Cohn character was attributed to his Jewishness. From off-color remarks about the appearance of his nose, to haughty retorts by the others of not letting him “get superior and Jewish” I wanted to ask his ‘friends’, all equally as annoying as Cohn, just who’s being the superior jerk here?
However, these cringe-worthy moments were some of the few occasions I had an actual reaction to the text. Plagued with shallow situations, forgettable characters and devoid of emotion, the uninspired prose barely registered throughout. Even in describing Hemingway’s beloved Spain and daring bullfights, the writing was unemotional and aloof. Perhaps the stilted style represented the wooden psyches of Jake and his friends as they searched for meaning in a post-war world, I don’t know. What I do know is Hemingway’s roundabout way of speaking and delivering storylines are better suited to his short story, Hills Like White Elephants and the more mature, The Old Man and the Sea. I could sense a bit of the later Ernest in his writing, especially during Jake’s fishing trip, but I require more than copious alcohol consumption, a fringe love interest rotating through every male character in the book (although, more power to ya Brett) and fascination with the intricacies of bullfighting to keep me interested.
Domestic fiction -Columbine school shootings -grandiose attempt, verbose reality -psychological fiction --whatever you do, DO NOT eat those Cheese-its
The hour I first believed: a novel | Wally Lamb (book with a candle on the cover) ★ 1/2☆☆☆☆
audio narrated by George Guidall (summon legend) ★★★★☆ Guidall’s voice sucks you right into the character’s mind, even if you don’t want to go there
Fiction--Horror -Apocalyptic literature -Dystopias -suspense --there's nothing to see here folks, move along
Seizing upon human beings’ worst fear at the end of the world, the inability to see, Malerman captured lightning-in-a-bottle with this simple premise. From page one, the story hooks it’s talons in until you shake them off at the finish, dazed and stumbling and so grateful for the sight of the outside world. The setting is sparse and intimate, the characters believable and resourceful as they come together to secure a fragile respite from the ever-present threat. The bird box analogy works well; the characters themselves becoming the alarms to danger, especially the well-trained children when they are removed from their sanctuary cage and channel human bellwethers, guiding the survivors blindly upon the unknown river to an uncertain end.
Well-written apocalyptic stories are fascinating, I love the dissolution of society viewed from the inside, the rebuilding of an alternate world, finding solutions to specific problems, the building up of pressure, and the inevitable failing due to humanity’s weaknesses. This one plays out at a breakneck speed, the back and forth between the present river scenario and the past events is tense and compelling, even though the reader already knows the outcome. Illuminated by nuanced writing, infused with as much humanness as darkness and alternating with moments of true terror and hope, Malerman composed a masterfully suspenseful read.
*I watched the Netflix original movie and it had some interesting moments, but it is truly unlike the novel in nearly every way except for the river escape. Don’t let watching it deter you from this book, and read it first if you can.
I was riding high on my Bookish Jay and Reading Mermaid challenge choices until these couple of major misses, but the end is in sight while Julie and I plot our next year’s challenge prompts, coming soon. My 2018 year in books recap will be finalized next week, hope to see you then. Are you reading anything exciting over the holidays?